Ferraro is enraged that it appears a black man may get “a seat at the table” before her preferred candidate, a white woman. Like a certain segment of second-wave feminists (is Ferraro even a feminist?), she feels that women (and when Ferraro says women, she means “white women”) have paid their dues and are now “owed” a turn as president. There is not a small amount of intrinsic racism in the fact that she seems so deeply horrified, offended even, that a black man may get a turn before a white women.
She uses several covers in attempts to hide her racism, and all of them are as flimsy and transparent as Saran wrap. The first is that, to her determination, sexism is now a much greater force in American society than racism, so Hillary has suffered the greater degree of bigotry, and it is for this reason alone that she is losing. She is even ready to fund a study to prove this, as her Op-Ed makes clear. Anyone with an iota of education about oppression and social justice would immediately spot this sentiment as coming from a place of thoroughly entrenched privilege. Of course, being female, Ferraro is quite familiar with the effects of prejudice against women. Being white, she has little familiarity with the effects of prejudice against blacks. Assuming that her prejudice is the greater one is not only a front-row ticket to the Oppression Olympics, but also an interesting case of oppression chauvinism. (“The oppression I experience is ipso facto the more important oppression.”)
The second cover is her claim that Obama’s race is in fact a benefit to his candidacy; i.e. he has unfairly benefited in the primary season because he is black. She suggests that were Obama not black, his political career would not be where it is today. Ferraro must be privy to some form of secret political affirmative action that the rest of us are unaware of. She hints that Hillary’s whiteness is actually a liability, though admittedly a liability that 43 previous presidents were able to heroically overcome. If anyone can point out to me any fairly reputable information that indicates being black has ever unfairly benefited a political candidate against a white opponent, please post it in the comments, I am dying to see it. So is Geraldine.
Her silliest cover is an infantile rhetorical maneuver: she “objectively” describes the racist concerns of a “certain” group of white democrats who just so happen to think exactly like her. But since all she does is describe this anonymous group of “Reagan Democrats”, she surely cannot be pinned as sharing their racist fear of a black president. No, all she does is merely describe their fear of reverse-racism, loss of supremacy, and dwindling ability to make racist statements in the media and get away with it.
Her final cover, in the penultimate paragraph, is to raise the class issue. I think she does this to wave a straw man off to the side: “See, all this stuff about race I just said? It isn’t about race, it’s about class! Therefore, what I said is not racist.” (Also known as the “Anything But Race” argument.) She clumsily suggests that because Obama is smart and was raised middle-class, working-class democrats can’t relate to him. So….? What about Hillary’s intelligence and class background? What about the black working class? What about the fact that white working-class voters had no problem voting for Obama in Oregon? What does this have to do with any of the preceding paragraphs? This sounds strikingly familiar to the bellowings of the Angry White Man.
One inch of her racist butt that she forgets to cover is the pesky little issue of the existence of women of color. In this Op-Ed and her last, she fails to recall that they exist, fails to consider that they have especially complex issues to contemplate this election cycle. She seems to assume that they will meekly get in line behind their more important white sisters and just do whatever they are told. Ferraro also seems to assume that women of color will feel unrepresented by a candidate of color, but yet will feel complete sisterhood with a white woman whose campaign has occasionally relied on racist tactics. Oops, but since racism is so minimal women of color are expected, by the Ferraro set, to ignore stuff like that, because a white woman will undoubtedly know what’s best for them!
**I first heard of the Oppression Olympics at Feministing.com.
© idyllicmollusk 5/30/08